Eleven brave souls pitched up at the car park by Balsporran Cottage at Drumochter, possibly enthused by new year resolutions or possibly just not having seen the MWIS dire forecast for the day. The cloud crept down the mountains and the wind gusts drove the rain into our faces as we exchanged new year greetings. By a unanimous show of hands we agreed to seek something lower and a bit more sheltered. Dougie’s option of heading straight for coffee was voted down – we were made of sterner stuff.
And so we adjourned to a very pleasant walk in Strath Mashie from Feagour, near the Wolftrax Mountain Bike Centre, through Black Wood. Our first objective was Dun-da-Lamh, an early Pictish hill fort from around 400AD which sits high on a crag at the north-east end of Black Craig above Glen Shira and the River Spey to the north and Strath Mashie to the south. The remains of the walls are up to about 2m high and up to 7m thick, so it must have been a very impressive structure.
We wandered along the top of Black Craig sheltered by very nice stands of Scots pines, and it was only when we exited the trees to squelch up the Graham, Creag Ruadh, that we were exposed to the rain and wind. Normally, there are fine views from Creag Ruadh, but today all that we could see was that the summit was adorned by a tall cylindrical trig pillar, which as you will all know is called a “Vanessa” rather than the familiar Hotine design of pillar.
We scurried off into the shelter of the forest, which turned out to be a bit more interesting than we anticipated with obstacles of wind blown trees, and a rather special line in dead trees which toppled when given a gentle nudge. That led to some nifty footwork from Wendell and Arthur as they stood, momentarily mesmerised by one such trunk heading towards them.
We rounded off an excellent day with coffee at Wolftrax.
Participants: Arthur, John, Dougie, Wendell, Dan, Michael, Irene, Robin and potential members Charlotte, Brian and Carol.